It takes a well-rounded team with different skills and roles to build and grow a successful software product and company, but all too often, we find that our teams or team members are working in silos. And if you don’t fully understand what other are doing (or why), your team can’t work to its full potential.
With my “What Matters” series, we’ll be digging into the various members of your team to help you understand and work better with them all. This week, we’re talking about what matters to software engineers. It’s the software engineer’s job to bring product ideas to life. Depending on the specific engineer and their role, they’re often also responsible for debugging code (and sometimes hardware), helping to set and maintain the systems that keep things up and running, and dive in when bugs appear or sites crash. So, given everything that’s on their plates, what matters to software engineers the most?
Engineers need an interruption-free environment
Whether it comes in the form of an impromptu meeting, a phone call, a Slack message, or a tap on the shoulder, interruptions are the bane of an engineer’s existence. As influential developer and investor Paul Graham puts it in his evergreen Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule blog post, people who create things “generally prefer to use time in units of half a day at least. You can’t write or program well in units of an hour.”
The engineers I spoke with echoed this, with many saying they wish more managers understood the need for heads-down time.
One engineer here at Clubhouse noted, “One of my biggest struggles is saying, ‘Okay, I need to get some work done now,’ without it coming off as rude.” Another added that he marks off heads-down time on his calendar so he doesn’t get interrupted by other team members.
Jen Hamilton, an iOS developer, agrees. “Having to start and stop throughout the day severely impacts my productivity, as do open offices. It might take me 15 minutes to get far enough into the code to understand how something works, and then I can start working on it. Every time I’m interrupted, it’s another 15 minutes wasted.”
There’s actually science to back this up. Every time you’re interrupted, you switch the task that your brain is focusing on, and the result is a “switching cost.” This is why multitasking is actually not a very productive strategy. Switching costs can lower productivity by up to 40% — so make sure to give your engineers the heads-down time they need to focus!
In short: unless it’s an emergency, engineers would prefer that you schedule a time to meet with them.
If you see them with their headphones on, staring intently at their screen, think twice before you nudge them…even if it’s for lunch or coffee!
Software engineers really do want regular and open communication
Though engineers want to keep distractions to a minimum, they also want to be kept Go to the full article.